Laundry Tips for College Students

Even if you occasionally did laundry at home, cleaning your clothes with a shared laundry room is a different beast. You’ll have older washing machines and dryers to deal with, quarters to hoard, panty raid threats, and the chance that you’ll lug all your clothes over to the laundry room, only to discover that all the machines are already full. And if you haven’t done your own laundry before, then you also have to learn how to separate clothes and pick settings for different loads. But it’s a skill you’ll need for life, and we’ll help you sort out what you need to know to outsmart the college laundry room.

First, figure out how to separate your clothes. If you use a cold wash, your clothes probably won’t bleed, but always separate brights away from whites if you’re going to include a piece of clothing that’s never been washed before. Very dark-rinse jeans (especially higher end jeans) usually bleed the first few times they’re washed, as do bright, richly colored knit sweaters, polo shirts, and sometimes even t-shirts. And washing certain items like underwear, socks, towels and sheets in hot water is a good idea if the load is especially dirty, so you’ll never want to mix colors and whites in a load like that.

Before leaving for college, find out if you need quarters for your laundry. Some colleges give students a laundry card they can load money onto, but if you need change, ask family members if they’d like to donate their quarters to you before going back to school. You can also go to the bank and ask for a few rolls of quarters to withdraw from your account. Keep them in a safe place, next to your other laundry items like detergent and fabric softener.

To avoid making trips to the laundry room and then turning back because the machines are taken, try to do you laundry at off-times. Late weekend mornings and late nights during the week are popular laundry times, so try to sneak a load in between classes during the day, or wake up earlier on a Saturday to do some laundry. You can always go back to bed and set your alarm for when the laundry needs to be changed to the dryer. Report broken machines to maintenance right away — don’t wait on other students to do it — and hand wash in your sink any delicate items you’re afraid will get ruined in the industrial-strength machines.

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